Most Common Blackjack Cheats

By Alex Smith, Last updated Mar 17, 2023

Whether it’s Blackjack or roulette, players will always try to gain an unethical edge over the casino – and Blackjack is one of the most vulnerable games for a casino to offer. Not only can it be successfully abused by fraudsters, but the game also has a very low house edge. This means the casino doesn’t generally make as much money from Blackjack as they do from roulette – and if the cheater manages to use a vulnerability in the game, the casino can lose a lot of money.

When playing Blackjack in a land-based casino, the dealers are well-trained to spot potential cheating. Today, sophisticated technology and CCTV deters the vast majority of cheaters. However, there are several methods that Blackjack cheaters can use. 

On this page, we are going to be taking a look at what these methods are – and we will also answer the question of whether or not card counting is classified as cheating. Firstly, let’s take a look at some of the most common methods players use to cheat while playing Blackjack.

Lying at the Table – The Most Common Form of Blackjack Cheating

The most common method of cheating at the Blackjack table is lying. While this may sound strange – you may be wondering how a player can go about successfully cheating by lying – players can simply claim that they did not want to hit a card when they were asked for one. For example, if a player holds a hand totalling 16 and they draw a picture card, causing them to bust, they may turn round and tell the dealer that they did not ask for an additional card.

Because every casino uses CCTV, and it would be too easy for the casino to prove that a player did ask the dealer to draw another card, fraudsters will use very slight movements to indicate to the dealer what they want. For example, they may nod slightly or use their eyes to tell the dealer they want another card. This is why, in many land-based casinos today, players must clearly state whether they want an additional card or not. If a player refuses, the dealer will ask them to state what they want to do clearly.

Similarly, a player can also claim ignorance if they tell the dealer they do not want a card, then the next player to draw a card ends up drawing one that would benefit them. This can be incredibly frustrating for the dealer and all the other players at the table – and again, it’s one of the reasons why casinos require players to be very clear about the action they want to take.

Some players will also lie about whether they want to double down. For example, some cheaters will claim that they did want to double down when they never actually wanted to go through the process of doubling. This cheating is usually done by sliding out an additional stack of chips equal to the first.

Thankfully, today, dealers are highly experienced at spotting cheaters. As we mentioned, if a player fails to adequately identify the movement they would like to make, the dealer will ask them to confirm it. If they fail to do so, the dealer will wait – and repeat offenders may be removed from the table by the casino’s pit boss.

Changing their Bets at the Blackjack Table

Common cheats at the Blackjack table that almost all land-based casino games are vulnerable to are players who cheat with their bets. For example, if a player places a $10 bet and receives a mighty hand – for example, two picture cards or a Blackjack – they may try to use sleight-of-hand techniques to add more money to their chip stack. This would result in them being paid out more money, and it would come at no additional risk to the cheater, aside from if they were to be caught engaging in this behavior.

Similarly, if a player places a large bet and they are dealt a very poor hand – for example, if they are dealt a picture card and a six, and the dealer shows an ace – they may again try to use sleight of hand techniques to remove chips from the table. This would limit their financial liability due to a losing hand and would mean they can save their money for a more profitable situation.

Most of the time, using sleight-of-hand techniques to cheat at the Blackjack table is incredibly hard. Not only are dealers well-trained to spot this behavior, but other players who notice it at the table will undoubtedly speak out if it continues.

What’s more, even if the croupier does not notice the behavior, the security team from the casino will constantly be monitoring the game from behind CCTV cameras. They know exactly what type of behavior to look for, and if they spot a player doing this, they will likely call local law enforcement. The cheater will be ejected from the premises and probably arrested.

Marking Cards

Marking a client is another prevalent method of cheating at Blackjack. Fraudsters can mark cards physically – for example, by bending certain parts of the card – or by using special luminous dyes. However, in today’s gambling environment, casinos rely on several high-tech measures to prevent players from being able to mark cards. However, it is not fool-proof, and there are several ways that players can still manage to mark cards and get an edge over the game.

For example, some players may scratch or prick cards using a pin – or, an earring – and a cheater needs to mark just a few cards to gain a significant advantage over the casino while playing Blackjack.

A more advanced form of this cheating involves players using special dyes that can only be seen through special contact lenses. However, casinos are not naïve to the fact that this is possible – and many of the biggest casinos now use unique CCTV cameras that can detect the dye on the cards.

By marking cards, players can often know what hole card the dealer is holding, allowing them to adjust their strategy accordingly. If a player can know which card the dealer is holding, it gives them precious information about whether they should draw a card or stand their hand – and this is one of the reasons why casinos are so careful about frequently changing the cards in play.

Exploiting a Dealer

One of the biggest financial risks casinos face is the exploitation of their dealers. If a player bribes a dealer, they can cost the casino a lot of money. For example, if the dealer is unsatisfied with their working conditions or income, these bribes can often seem attractive.

Dealer exploitation generally works in one of two ways. Firstly, a cheating dealer may choose to pay a player incorrectly. For example, if a player has put down four $10 chips, the dealer may pay them out with four $25 chips if they have a winning hand. The benefit of using this method is that it is tough to prove that the dealer paid out the player incorrectly on purpose. If they are caught, they can simply claim ignorance. Even if they lose their job, it is almost impossible to prove they were doing this criminally – which means police can rarely charge perpetrators.

The second way to exploit a dealer is if a player manages to convince the dealer to reveal their first card. They could do this by signaling the player or marking the cards. If a player can determine which card the dealer is holding, it allows them to play perfectly. While this method is not foolproof – luck always plays a part – it allows players to increase their edge over the casino massively and win a lot of money in the long run.

Card Counting: Is It Illegal?

There is often significant debate surrounding card counting – some people are adamant that it is illegal. In contrast, others claim it is nothing more than using your brain to get an advantage over casinos. In reality, card counting is not illegal in most jurisdictions worldwide, although if the casino catches you counting cards, they have the legal right to eject you from the premises. They cannot withhold any of your winnings, provided you haven’t broken any other rules at the table.

What is card counting? Card counting is counting all the cards dealt at the Blackjack table. Experienced players can gain a significant advantage over the casino by knowing whether there are more low or high-value cards in the deck. If there are more high-value cards, the card counter can increase their bet size.

Card counting takes months, if not years, of practice – and casinos have brought in several measures to deter players from counting the cards. For example, dealers frequently shuffle all the playing cards at the table – rendering any current act. Useless. Casinos also generally use between six and eight decks of cards. This makes it much harder for card counters to gain an advantage, and it is generally single-deck Blackjack tables that card counters will try to abuse today.

Dealers are also well-trained to spot card counters. If they suspect a player may be trying to count cards, the dealer is trained to try to distract the card counter. Doing so can cause them to lose count and render their technique useless. If a player is suspected of counting cards, the casino will begin to monitor them. If the player continues to win, they may be asked to leave the table, and usually, they will be ejected from the premises.

Is Using Blackjack Basic Strategy Classed as Cheating on the Casino Game?

Blackjack strategy – usually known as a basic strategy – is a set of mathematical rules designed to give players the best chance of beating the casino. This formula was developed back in the 60s and 70s by mathematicians, and it tells you, the player, the most mathematically-sound decision to make depending on what cards you hold and which card the dealer shows.

Many players incorrectly believe that following a basic blackjack strategy is against the rules or even illegal. However, the reality is there is nothing wrong with using and following a basic strategy. Some casinos will even encourage it. However, it is generally considered bad etiquette to physically look at a basic strategy table while seated at the Blackjack table. Some casinos will allow this, but most would prefer that you don’t avoid slowing down the gameplay.

As you can imagine, there is physically no way for casinos to prevent players from following basic strategy – and when it comes to playing Blackjack online, casinos have no idea what you are doing behind your computer screen, so there is no way of knowing whether or not you are doing this.

Some people call this strategy a “Blackjack cheat sheet,” – and it’s not considered one of the cheating methods. Like card counting, following a Blackjack strategy chart is legal – although, unlike card counting, land-based casinos are rarely going to throw you out for following basic Blackjack strategy.

However, you must choose a strategy compatible with the Blackjack games you’re playing. For example, like Blackjack card counting, the strategy you need to use changes depending on the game’s rules. What the dealer’s hole card is, how the dealer draws – and how many other Blackjack players are seated at the table can influence your decisions.

To reiterate, it’s NOT classified as cheating if you follow a Blackjack cheat sheet – or if you’re using Blackjack card counting. However, card counting is frowned upon by casinos, and card counters are routinely asked to leave; those following a Blackjack cheat sheet aren’t.

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